Grant County’s budget committee mulled reducing hours in its non-union departments to avoid permanent layoffs as it looks to fill holes and balance the budget before the July deadline.
Treasurer Julie Ellison said the county could save $36,000 if employees cut one day a month for one year.
Ellison said the county could save $50,000 by including its full-time elected officials in a one-day-per-month furlough.
She told the committee that the county would “eat” the money if it did not make the reductions permanent.
“We don’t have any extra revenue, and you’re gonna be right back in the same spot,” she said. “So, furloughing is not the answer.”
Budget committee chairman Bob Quinton said possible solutions were permanent layoffs or cutting overtime and comp time.
Committee member Amy Kreger said, in her opinion, the fairest option would be to make an across-the-board reduction that would allow employees to keep their jobs and benefits intact.
“Keep the benefits,” she said. “Size down fairly so there isn’t hatred in your building.”
Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett said elected officials would have to volunteer to take a reduction in pay. Along with County Judge Scott Myers and Ellison, Stinnett said she would be willing to take a cut.
Palmer asked how departments would stagger schedules and who would make the decision. Kreger said that would likely be a department head decision.
Human Resources Manager Laurie Cates pointed out that the County Clerk’s Office is mandated to be open for a certain number of hours and said, in her opinion, the court should make a “blanket call.”
Palmer said the committee should bring in department heads on future discussions about the reductions to make sure to “get it right.”
Quinton agreed. He said the county’s most considerable expense is personnel.
Ellison said some employees might be upset at the prospect of losing hours because the county approved additional positions in some departments that were not budgeted.
“Nobody likes it, and it won’t be 100% fair,” Kreger said. “Because when you get down to the nuts and bolts, there are some places that cannot be cut.”
The next budget committee meeting is from 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, at the Grant County Courthouse.
To phone in, call 541-575-4014. The meeting identification number is 8357#, and the PIN is 4499#.